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Re: Trigger languages

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Monday, March 24, 2008, 8:37
Eric Christopherson wrote:
 > On Mar 18, 2008, at 6:02 AM, R A Brown wrote:
 >> So it depends on whether Campbell was asking (a) 'Could anybody
 >> explain to me how trigger [conlangs] languages work?' or (b) 'Could
 >> anybody explain to me how trigger [natlangs] languages work?'
 >> If (a) is intended, read David's comments from "The notion of the
 >> 'trigger' language, then, is something exclusive to conlangs" onwards;
 >> also take a look at Carsten's Ayeri conlang.
 >> If (b) is intended then IMO no such animal exists.
 > So, is it the case that the *terms* "trigger language" and "trigger
 > system" are not used in descriptions of natlangs? Or they are used, but
 > describe something different from the conlang concept of a trigger
 > language?

Strictly speaking - the latter. I should, perhaps, have written that
natlang 'trigger languages' are not attested in the way Conlang Trigger
languages are defined.

David J. Peterson wrote:
> I don't know the old literature well enough to say how exactly > the term was first used. Conlangers certainly didn't invent the > term; it was first used in the literature.
Yep - it wasn't conlangers that invented the terms. But IMO the "trigger" explanations of Austronesian verb behavior are confusing and misleading.
> The earliest article I've > read was written by Sandra Chung, and it was an RP analysis, > so it analyzed it as a kind of passive.
I agree that such behavior is better explained in terms of voice and applicatives.
> My understanding is that > the Conlang Trigger Language is very similar to the first analysis > of, for example, Tagalog, but that work since has shown that > those analyses were "wrong" (replace that with the academic > word for "wrong").
Was it the first analysis? I have a "Basic Tagalog" (4th edition, 1964 - the first edition was 1956); it makes no mention of 'triggers'. But it does talk of passives :) But at some stage, analyses using 'trigger' terminology did occur. However, from what I have been able to gather, it would seem that not all 'trigger' explanations were the same. My feeling is the Conlang Trigger Languages developed from an attempt to make sense of these explanations.
> I'm certainly convinced that there's a better > way to analyze Malagasy, at the very least.
Certainly I've seen Tagalog analyzed better also -- Ray ================================== ================================== Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora. [William of Ockham]